New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is the Congress’s first choice for the presidency and Vice President Hamid Ansari is second, party chief Sonia Gandhi told key ally and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday.
Banerjee disclosed the details after meeting Gandhi at her 10 Janpath residence. Banerjee also made it clear that she would not commit to any name without first consulting Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. “I spoke to Sonia in detail… Sonia-ji told me that Congress’s first choice is Pranab Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari is second,” Banerjee said, adding, “I told her we cannot say anything. I am going to meet Mulayam Singh Yadav (Samajwadi Party chief) and will talk to him and Trinamool Congress and then will reveal our decision.”
She was accompanied by Railway Minister Mukul Roy. Banerjee, who landed in Delhi Tuesday evening, then left 10 Janpath to meet Mulayam Singh.
She vehemently denied that her state’s demand for a financial package was linked to the party supporting a Congress presidential candidate. “Whenever I come to Delhi, there is rumour and gossip that I ask for a financial package in exchange for supporting a Congress presidential candidate. I never ask for it. We are asking for the moratorium for three years. Our demand for three-year moratorium on debt repayment should not be linked to presidential polls,” Banerjee said.
Responding to queries that the Prime Minister’s Office had called her, she said: “If prime minister wants to talk to me, I will meet him.”
The presidential election will be held on July 19. The last date for filing nominations for the post is June 30.